SOAS launches The Ebony Initiative 2021 – Nurturing black scholars and success

November 22, 2020
12 November 2020

The Ebony Initiative is a new initiative at SOAS that aims to encourage and nurture Black scholars to pursue research careers and postgraduate education. The programme seeks to increase the pipeline of Black scholars progressing to PGT and PGR degrees and academic positions in UK HE.

This faculty-initiated programme takes a multi-pronged approach which includes academic skills building sessions, community building spaces, career mentoring and funding support and guidance.

Monthly workshops will be run by Dr. Althea-Maria Rivas from SOAS, and Dr. Gabriella Beckles-Raymond with special sessions being facilitated by Simon Vitting from the SOAS Research and Enterprise Development Office. Other events will be supported by SOAS faculty and scholars, other Black academics from across the UK and SOAS alumni.

Workshops begin this week and sessions include The Black PhD Experience and Building Community, Finding Your Voice, Decolonising Your Writing and much more.

A second component of the Ebony Initiative is a Student Summer Research Programme for at black UG students which will be launched in January 2021. The six week paid summer programme will match SOAS students with faculty mentors with the goal of introducing them to independent research and academic careers.

Althea-Maria Rivas, Lecturer in Development Studies and lead co-ordinator of the Ebony Initiative said: 
“The Ebony initiative recognizes the importance of the intellectual contribution that is made by racialised students, in the UK academy and globally. The programme aims to nurture black scholars by focusing on community-building, mentoring and other forms of support. The challenges that black students in the UK face are widespread and well-known.This programme is only a first step and focused on SOAS students. Students from several other Universities have contacted us wanting to join the project. Ultimately, UK HEIs need to recognize that the institutionalized racism and structural obstacles black students are struggling against in UK Universities must be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The Ebony Initiative is coordinated by:

Dr. Althea-Maria Rivas, Lecturer in Development Studies
Dr. Eleanor Newbigin, Senior lecturer in the History of Modern South Asia and Learning and Teaching Coordinator, School of History, Religion and Philosophy
Lucia Kula, Teaching Fellow at the School of Law and Black Student Support Coordinator

For further information, contact:

Dr. Althea-Maria Rivas –

Source: SOAS, University of London

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